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15 Towns Similar to Bend, Oregon

Mount Bachelor in Bend, Oregon.

Bend, Oregon, is a scenic town with stunning views of Mount Bachelor and accessibility to lots of outdoor adventures. Whether it’s white-water kayaking, camping, paragliding, skiing, golf, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing, or trekking up the slopes, or exploring waterfalls, caves, buttes, rugged badlands, and volcanoes, there is a lot to see and do in this town. As Central Oregon’s largest city, it is the county seat of Deschutes in the state of Oregon.

In general, the living cost in Bend is 25% more than the national median and around 7% higher than the rest of Oregon. However, this town’s utility costs are 13% cheaper than the state average. Housing costs around 44 percent more than the rest of the United States and approximately 21 percent more than other regions of Oregon.

It is a legendary beer municipality, a cannabis-friendly center, and a great outdoor music spot. Bend has an estimated population of 197,488 as of July 2019. Its largest private company is the St. Charles Medical Center, with more than 4,400 employees regionwide. Those following closely in the private sector are Les Schwab Tire Centers and Sunriver Resort, each with over 900 employees regionwide.

Hardly a college town, it has about 1,000 students at the OSU campus.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Sunset view of the Wukoki ruin at Flagstaff, Arizona.

Flagstaff is the county seat of Coconino in Northern Arizona and has an estimated population of 65,870 as of 2010. The main industries that form the city’s economic base are transportation, education, government, and tourism. The town receives more than five million tourists annually, perhaps due to its juxtaposition to the Grand Canyon National Park, deriving its nickname as the City of Seven Wonders.

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It gets busy over winter for its ski resort and again in summer due to its cooler summer climate. The town’s largest employers are the Flagstaff Unified School District, the Flagstaff Medical Center, and the Northern Arizona University.

Flagstaff has 15% higher grocery prices and 2% higher transportation costs such as bus fares and petrol prices than that of the national average. Utility costs are 3% higher, while housing costs are 43% more than the national average.

There are lots to see and do in picturesque Flagstaff, including stargazing at the Lowell Observatory, exploring the ancient cliff dwellings of Walnut Canyon, or discovering the ancient native pueblos as you tour the Wupatki National Monument. It’s similar to Bend due to its wide range of outdoor activities and scenic views, though, unlike Bend, it is a mountainous area.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Buildings in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Santa Fe is the fourth largest city and the capital of New Mexico. In 2019, its estimated population was 84,683. Like Bend, it attracts tourists for its outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. Unlike Bend, it is not a cannabis-friendly zone. Santa Fe is also known for its active art scene and galleries, another major tourist attraction. The economy is largely boosted by the state government and tourism, with the Los Alamos National Laboratory being its most significant employer.

Housing in Santa Fe is 29% above the national average. On a trip to this city, expect to spend approximately $127 daily, with $49 for local transportation and $35 for meals. It’s a lovely place to visit for its world-class hiking trails, big mountains, and skiing opportunities. The town boasts of unique food and architecture.

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Sparks, Nevada

Sparks Marina park in Northern Nevada.

Sparks is a municipal of Washoe County in Nevada. With an estimated population of 105,006 as of 2019, it is Nevada’s fifth most densely inhabited city. Unlike Bend, its main industry is Retail Trade, with over 6,000 employees. Thereafter, Health Care and Social Assistance with over 5,000 employees and Manufacturing, with over 4,000 employees. Compared to the national average, this municipal’s living cost is 7 percent higher.

This beautiful town offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including sampling craft beers at the brewery and trying your luck at the casino. There are numerous outdoor areas to explore, such as The Rock Park, Hunter Creek Waterfall Trail, Truckee Riverwalk, and Mountain Trail.

Like Bend, recreational cannabis is legal, it’s a beer town, and the area offers magnificent mountain views of the Sierra Nevada. On average, you’ll spend $125 on accommodation per night for a 3-star hotel.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Poudre River Trail in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Fort Collins is the most densely populated town of Larimer County in Colorado, with an estimated population of 170,243 in 2019. It is located in the Rocky Mountains’ foothills and offers fantastic recreational possibilities, a bustling nightlife scene, rich cultural attractions, family enjoyment, and the scenic Cache la Poudre River. In 2019, it was on Forbes list of Top 14 Best Places to Travel to.

Fort Collins is known as the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. It hosts 20 award-winning craft breweries as well as Anheuser-Busch, one of the world’s most well-known big breweries. It is similar to Bend in terms of climate, demographics, and growth. Unlike cannabis-friendly Bend, in Fort Collins, it is legal to grow your own marijuana but not publicly. You can also not use it in public.

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The cost of housing is 44% above the nation’s median, making it an expensive place to live. If traveling as a pair, you’ll spend approximately $224 on accommodation, transport, food, and entertainment.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Old Town shops and restaurants in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Albuquerque is a cultural center and has numerous museums worth visiting. The town serves as Bernalillo County’s County seat and is located in the north-central part of New Mexico. In 2019, its estimated population stood at 560,513. The town offers scenic views of The Sandia-Manzano Mountains on the eastern side, making it similar to Bend with a nearby mountain. However, there is no skiing in Albuquerque, a big difference in comparison to Bend.

Albuquerque’s top industries include computer chip manufacturing, defense and aerospace, and energy technology, with Kirtland Air Force Base, Intel Corp, and Sandia National Laboratory as the most significant employers. The town ranks 67th out of 75 of the country’s most populous cities among the least costly places to live.

Average monthly expenses are $1,500. Top places to visit are cultural and historical sites or you can attend the Balloon Fiesta or enjoy panoramic views from the Sandia Pek Tramway.

Taos, New Mexico

Ancient dwellings of UNESCO World Heritage Site named Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.

Taos is a gorgeous town located in New Mexico, in Taos County. As of 2019, it had an estimated population of 5,929. It has been named as one of the World’s Prettiest Mountain Towns, bearing it similar to Bend. Unlike Bend, recreational cannabis became legal only recently. Taos’ largest industries are Retail Trade, with over 400 employees, and Food and Accommodation Services with over 300 employees.

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Taos is popularly known for its most photographed church, world-class ski resort, and World Heritage Site, making it a great tourist destination. Its wide range of outdoor activities bears similarity to Bend. Whether it’s llama trekking, hot springing, hot-air ballooning, mountain biking, river rafting, horseback riding, or fly fishing, the stunning mountains are always in view. It is home to over eighty art galleries.

Missoula, Montana

Trail on Mount Sentinel in Missoula, Montana.

Missoula in Western Montana has a population of 72,364 as of 2019. The town is attractive to outdoor lovers with activities such as fly fishing, kayaking, and hiking hosted in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Lolo National Forest is a popular hiking and biking trail similar to Bend with a wide range of outdoor activities. Culturally, Bend and Missoula are home to breweries that attract a fair number of visitors and have a vibrant cultural scene that is always active.

The main employer in Missoula is the University of Montana. St. Patrick Hospital and the Missoula County Public Schools are other top employers in the town. Missoula’s mild summers from June to August, similar to Bend, attract outdoor lovers and cultural enthusiasts. The harsher winters

Both towns are not expensive to live with the average incomes per capita are an average of $41,968 for Bend and $52,471 for Missoula.

Peoria, Arizona

View of Lake Pleasant in Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Sonoran Desert, Arizona.

Peoria is a town in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. The booming town of 184,000 people is a typical Arizonian town with sun throughout the year and is surrounded by mountains and desert similar to the Cascade Mountains in Bend. It is attractive to retirees because of the good weather.

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Peoria is cheaper to live in compared to Bend with the average home value in Peoria being $336,000 while the average rent for an apartment is $1,300. In Bend, the average cost of a home is $616,047, which is double the price in Peoria.

Peoria weather is sunny almost all year round, with very hot, dry summers and cool winters. It attracts tourists, especially to the 23,000 acre Lake Pleasant Regional Park, which has two marinas and a host of activities such as fishing, sailing, water skiing, and a host of other water-based activities.

The main economic activities are manufacturing, healthcare, construction, and retail trade, with the largest employers being Walmart, Peoria Unified School District, Younger Brothers Companies Inc, and The Antigua Group Inc.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan during fall.

Grand Rapids in Michigan has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to live. The town that is situated along the Grand River and borders Lake Michigan has a population of 198,401 people as of 2019.

The town is famous for furniture making, sawmills, and woodworking. This industry employs a majority of the townsfolk and one of the largest companies is Steelcase. Other main employers in Grand Rapids are from the retail sector and healthcare services like Bend.

Meijer, a retail company, Spectrum Health Hospitals, and Gordon Food Services are the main employers in the town. The average cost of a house in Grand Rapids is about $225,000, which is 36% cheaper than the cost of buying a home in Bend. Grand Rapids is home to over 70 parks with popular hiking trails.

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Grand Rapids is a culturally suave town with many places to visit, including the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and over forty craft breweries that serve local, freshly brewed beer similar to the vibrant brewing scene in Bend. The weather in Grand Rapids, Michigan is of warm summers and freezing winters with a lot of snow. It is one of the towns that have the most snowstorms because of its proximity to Lake Michigan.

South Lake Tahoe, CA

Beach in Lake Tahoe, CA.

The town of South Lake Tahoe, CA has a population of 21,939 as of July 2019. The resort city in the southern part of Lake Tahoe is in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Identical to Bend, the town is a tourist attraction town with visitors drawn to the ski resorts, beaches, and hiking trails. The town’s vibrant nightlife and outdoor activities form the perfect place for a wide variety of people as they cater to a wide range of interests.

The cost of living in South Lake Tahoe is about 123.4% of the national average, making it one of the more expensive cities in the US. The cost of housing, utilities, housing expenses, transportation, and healthcare are higher by an average of 9.35% more than that in Bend.

Unlike Bend, South Lake Tahoe has a wide variety of top employers across sectors. Lake Tahoe Community College, Liberty Utilities Company, and Marriott-Timber Lodge are some of the top employers in the town. South Lake Tahoe has a warm temperate climate with warm summers and wet and rainy winters, which is different from Bend’s very cold, snowy, and cloudy winters.

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Sun Valley, Idaho

Women cross country skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The picturesque resort town of Sun Valley in Idaho is famous for its ski resorts. The surrounding Bald Mountain is the main local skiing attraction and Dollar Mountain with gentler slopes is a skiing top spot. The town has a population of 1,353 based on 2019 statistics, with most of the people in the town being over 65 years old. Bend, in comparison, has the middle-aged group of between 35 and 44 years old as the largest.

Apart from skiing, there are other fun activities. Outdoor winter activities include visiting the Sawtooth Wilderness Area, where you can swim, fish, ride a bike, go for white-water rafting like the outdoor activities in Bend. There is also dog sledding or ice fishing in the Big Wood River.

Indoor activities include visiting the Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum. The cost of living in Sun Valley is 3.5% cheaper compared to the living costs in Bend. The employers in Sun Valley also pay an average of 4.1% more than Bend employers.

Bozeman, Montana

Museum of the Rockies on the campus of Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman.

Bozeman is a dinosaur lover’s dream. The city houses the Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies which has an impressive exhibition of T. rex specimens, housed in the Siebel Dinosaur Complex. Bozeman, with a population of 46,746 based on the 2019 census, is in the Rocky Mountains. The scenic town is home to the Montana State University.

Bozeman and Bend are similar in that they both have a vibrant brewery culture, both towns have a variety of outdoor activities such as snowboarding, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and white-water rafting. Bozeman is more expensive to live in, with an average median household income of $51,860 and a median home cost of around $650,000, which is considerably pricier than the cost of a home in Bend.

Bozeman has harsh winters just like Bend and the summers are mild and last for three months.

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Cheyenne, Wyoming

Union Pacific Railroad Depot in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, with a population of 63,607 in July 2019, is one of the most affordable cities to live in. The biggest employers are the Cheyenne Regional Medical center, The US National Guard, the Wyoming Medical Center Central, and North Antelope. The average cost of a family home is $253,900 which is almost a third of what a home costs in Bend.

Compared to Bend, Cheyenne is a traditional town with cultural attractions that focus on the history of the town, such as a visit to the historic Wyoming State Capitol Building, Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley, which is a historic tour of the town, and Cheyenne Depot and Depot Museum which showcase the history of the railroad. Cheyenne experiences more snow and rain compared to Bend but also has more sunny days.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville in North Carolina is a town with a population of 91,560 as recorded in 2019. The town in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Western part of North Carolina is best known for being the home of the famous novelist Thomas Wolfe.

Asheville has a wide variety of cultural attractions, such as the Basilica of Saint Lawrence. The 19th-century Biltmore estate has a wide display of art and other galleries, and museums are in the Downtown Art District and the River Arts District. Asheville summers are warm and humid, unlike Bend, and the winters are short and very cold. Outdoor activities such as hiking and paddleboarding, are best undertaken during the summer months, like in Bend.

The cost of living in Asheville is 14.2% less than in Bend. Housing in Asheville is 35.8% less than in Bend, but health costs are more expensive in Asheville by 25.4%.

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Jackson, Mississippi

Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi.

Jackson is the capital city of the state of Mississippi. With a population of 426,000 people, the town is the home to the Medgar Evers Home Museum, the Mississippi State Capitol building, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, which also has an aquarium and nature trails.

The cost of housing in Jackson’s housing expenses is 24% lower than the national average, which is cheaper than Bend‘s. The largest employers in the town are the University of Mississippi medical center, Cal Maine Foods, and Trustmark. The weather in Jackson is similar to Bend, with hot summers and cold winters.